Monday, October 8, 2012

Horror for Halloween by Andy Gavin

In honor of that special night when the barriers between this world and the next grows thin, I made a list of some favorite creepy/scary books.

by Steven King
No horror list would be complete without the master. And while It isn’t my all time favorite Stephen King novel, it (haha) is one of the scariest. I mean, come on, killer demonic clowns? Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But this is a terrifying read with a host of really good characters. Truth is, often with King, some of the human villains are as frightening than the supernatural. But Pennywise, however, can manifest anywhere, anytime, in the most horrific of manners.

by Thomas Harris
I read this and its equally creepy sequel, Silence of the Lambs, in one long sleepless night during college. Woah, forget the movies (and SOTL is a great film), these books will make you shit your pants. First of all, they are terrifyingly realistic, particularly Red Dragon. Harris did a lot of research on real serial killers and the killer feels very very real. Second, the novel is edge of your seat from the get go, and third, the word choice is carefully calculated to crawl under your skin.

by Dan Simmons
A horrific journey into the depths and nature of evil. One of the most chilling books I have ever read. It’s long and detailed, but there are some delightfully grueling scenes and a serious level of emotional wracking. The idea that some psychic puppet master can just up and steal your body, then destroy it to his/her own ends is the very definition of creepy.

by China MiĆ©ville
This book isn’t horror per se, but more dark fantasy. Still, it has such a sordid and creepy atmosphere that it’s well worth the read. The world is just so creepy, slimy, and cool — although not for the faint of heart. This book is dark. Very dark. Part Dickens, part steampunk, part fantasy, part Blade Runner, part Lovecraft and a whole lot more. Heavy on the twisted.

by Tim Powers
Tim Powers writes a unique blend of fantasy, history, and horror. While also not exactly horror, it’s also filled with creep factor — which to me is more important. This brilliant novel somehow manages to weave Tarot, poker, gangsters, The Fisher King, soul steeling, and more into a crazy story set in Vegas. Be careful who sits down at your card table!

by H.P. Lovecraft
As we began with the modern master, we end with the 20th century’s first king of creep. I encourage you to have your brains sucked out by this tome of sinister possibilities. Lovecraft is certainly one of the most influential writers in the fantasy/horror space. Anything that has a dark gothic sensibility (Hellboy I’m looking at you!) has its roots in this tentacled mass of flesh.

About the Author

Andy Gavin is an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There he created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. He sleeps little, reads novels and histories, watches media obsessively, travels, and of course, writes. His first novel, The Darkening Dream, is a thrilling dark fantasy that features vampires of the non-sparkly variety.

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  1. What's not to love about a horror list that starts with King and ends with Lovecraft!? On King's "It", a friend of mine called it "the worst and scariest thing that happened to him in high school" (which of course made me want to read it haha). And on Lovecraft, where to begin? It never ceases to amaze me how much influence he has to this day: in books, in games and in music to name just some of the areas. Honestly, I don't know of anyone else that comes close to this degree of influence on contemporary horror... And I think if it wasn't for the efforts of August Derleth, the world would never have known Lovecraft or of the Cthulhu Mythos...

  2. Some really great works spotlighted here, Andy. Thanks for illuminating those of us who don't spend as much time lurking in the dark alleys of the Horror genre.